Honduras

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 09 January 2014.   It contains new information in the Summary and under Crime (high levels of crime and violence persist across Honduras). We continue to advise Australians in Honduras to exercise a high degree of caution because of the high levels of violent crime.

Honduras overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Honduras because of the high levels of violent crime.
  • You should maintain heightened awareness of your surroundings at all times due to the high levels of violent crime in Honduras.
  • Violent crime, including murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking and sexual assault, is widespread in Honduras. It often involves firearms and is frequently related to violent street gangs that operate in the country.
  • We advise you to use first-class transport options, avoid travelling at night and consider travelling in groups or with a tour due to the high risk of crime.
  • Australians in Honduras are advised to monitor political developments closely and avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. See Civil unrest / Political tension for more information.
  • The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. In the case of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. See Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for detailed advice.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Honduras. The Australian Embassy in Mexico provides consular assistance to Australians in Honduras.
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Under the Central American Border Control Agreement (CA-4), foreigners may travel between Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala for periods up to 90 days without completing entry and exit formalities. This period begins at the first point of entry to any of these countries. Visitors can request an extension of their CA-4 visa prior to its expiry, however visitors who stay more than 90 days without permission may be fined and expelled from any of the four countries. Visitors expelled from one country may be refused entry to the others.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Honduras for the most up to date information.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for travellers arriving in Honduras from Yellow Fever endemic countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a list of countries in which yellow fever is endemic.

If you are travelling to Honduras through the United States of America, including if you are transiting Honolulu or other American cities, you will need to meet US entry/transit requirements. You should check your visa needs with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Airlines may not accept passengers bound for destinations within the US without evidence of an onward or return ticket, even if the person may be eligible to enter the US under the visa waiver program.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Honduras because of the high levels of violent crime. You should maintain heightened awareness of your surroundings at all times due to the high levels of violent crime in Honduras. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.

The high level of crime and violence persists across Honduras. Violent crime, including murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking and sexual assault, is widespread in Honduras. It often involves firearms and is frequently related to violent street gangs that operate in the country. If you are a victim of an attack, you should not resist. Victims of crime have been killed and injured when resisting their attackers. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. .

Foreigners have been the target of violent crimes, particularly in and around San Pedro Sula (including when departing the airport), on the ferry from La Ceiba to the Bay Islands, as well as in Tegucigalpa, Tela, Trujillo and in the area of the Copan ruins. You should avoid discussing your travel plans in public as visitors have been targeted after being followed.

Armed robbery and car and busjackings occur on Honduran roads and highways, both in urban and rural areas (see the Local travel section). Carjackers often target vehicles leaving major airports. There have been frequent incidents of roadside robbery, including by criminals pretending to be injured. You should consider using a reputable tour company or limousine service for travel to and from the airport and for longer trips. Radio and hotel taxis are recommended for shorter trips.

You should report incidents to the police and drive with windows closed and doors locked at all times to avoid potential robberies, particularly at traffic lights. Do not hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.

Sexual assault of foreign travellers has been reported. Travellers should avoid leaving food and drinks unattended in bars and places of entertainment as the number of 'spiking' incidents has increased.Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

The risk of being a victim of violent crime increases at night. Travelling or walking alone after dark is particularly dangerous, including in Tegucigalpa, other major cities and at beach resorts. Visitors are recommended to travel in groups and not to travel in buses or cars after dark. Australians should consider scheduling their arrival at and departure from airports during daylight hours to avoid the risk of travel at night.

Petty crime, such as bag snatching and pickpocketing, is also prevalent throughout Honduras, particularly at airports, hotels, bus terminals, shopping malls and other public venues where large numbers of people gather. Theft is common on Roatan and the Bay Islands, including from homes and long-term leased residences. You should avoid showing signs of affluence.

Scams and credit card fraud have also been reported. Foreigners have also been robbed after withdrawing money from ATMs. You should monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.

You should be aware that local law enforcement authorities often have limited capacity to respond to the increasing levels of violent crime and assistance to victims of crime can be limited.

Border areas: There are high levels of violent crime in remote and border areas of Honduras which often have inadequate or no police or security presence. Of particular concern are the Departments of Olancho, Colon and Gracias a Dios in the east, Cortes and Copan in the west, and Valle and Choluteca in the south where violent crime is high. Due to risks associated with smuggling activities at non-official border crossing areas, travellers should use only official border crossing check points.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Australians in Honduras are advised to monitor political developments closely and avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

You should be aware that participation by foreigners in political demonstrations is illegal and is considered a serious crime.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Honduras. Only use ATMs during daylight hours, preferably in controlled areas such as banks or shopping centres, and change money in hotels or banks.

The currency in Honduras is the Lempira (HNL). Australian dollars cannot be exchanged into Lempiras in Honduras. US dollars in either cash or traveller’s cheques are easily converted. Visitors are required to show their passport, or a certified copy of the passport identification page, when changing money.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

The safety standards on public transport are often poor due to inadequate maintenance of vehicles and insufficient driver training.

Visitors should only use first-class transport options, avoid travelling at night and consider travelling in groups or with a tour due to the risk of crime. Visitors should always drive with their doors locked and windows closed.

Incidents of crime along roads, including car and busjackings, are common in Honduras, including on the main highway between San Pedro and Siguatepeque and on the road between San Pedro Sula and Copan. There have also been attacks on the road from Limones to La Union and also from Olancho via Salama to Saba. You should also take particular care on the roads from Gualaco to San Estaban, La Esparanza to Gracias, and in and around Tela, La Ceiba, Trujillo and El Progreso. As carjacking and highway robberies are more common at night, limiting travel to daylight hours is highly recommended.

Driving at night is dangerous as many roads are poorly maintained and lack adequate signage and lighting. Pedestrians and farm animals commonly share the roads with vehicles. Travellers should check the road conditions in advance of travelling (particularly during the rainy season) as many roads are regularly damaged by heavy rains, flooding, landslides and bridge collapses. Ensure you have adequate vehicle insurance before driving. For further information, see our road travel page.

The most dangerous stretches for road travel are from Tegucigalpa to Choluteca (mountain curves); from El Progreso to La Ceiba (animal crossings, poorly maintained bridges); and from Tegucigalpa to Copan (mountain curves and poor road conditions).

Unmarked mine fields are located on both sides of the Honduras-Nicaragua border, especially in the Rio Coco region, the Choluteca and El Paraiso provinces, and in the area near the Atlantic Coast. Travellers should not stray from known safe roads and areas.

There is an ongoing maritime border dispute with neighbouring Nicaragua, particularly in the northeast coastal region. Honduran navy patrols may board private vessels in the region to check documentation. Criminals posing as fishermen have also carried out armed assaults against private vessels in this area.

Due to risks associated with smuggling activities at non-official border crossing areas travellers should use only official border crossing check points. Border crossings are often unmanned at night. Travellers should cross borders in the morning to allow sufficient time to reach their destination before dark.

Scuba diving is a popular recreational activity for visitors to Honduras, however the standards maintained by diving schools, dive operators and rescue services may not be as high or comparable to those in Australia. Check operator's credentials carefully beforehand and ensure that your insurance covers you for all of the activities you undertake (also see the Health section).

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information onaviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Honduras, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy prison sentences served in local jails.

It is illegal for foreigners to participate in political activities including demonstrations. Penalties include detention and deportation.

It is illegal to import religious materials.

Honduran law prohibits the export of firearms, antiques and artefacts from pre-colonial civilisations. It is also illegal to export certain birds, feathers and other flora and fauna.

It is illegal to photograph official buildings. You should check with local authorities before taking photos.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Taking photographs, particularly of children and women, may be met with suspicion. You should get permission from an adult before photographing children.

Information for dual nationals

The government of Honduras recognises dual nationality.

Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Dengue fever is transmitted from infected mosquitoes and is present in Honduras. There is no vaccine to protect against dengue fever. You should take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times. If you are suffering from a high fever, joint or muscle pain, bone pain, rashes and mild bleeding of the nose or gums, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

The standard of medical facilities in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are limited. Services are extremely limited outside of these two locations. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front cash payment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a location with suitable facilities, usually the United States, would be necessary. Costs would be considerable (in the tens of thousands of dollars).

There is a fully operable decompression chamber on Roatan island and there are decompression facilities on the Bay Island of Utila. Before diving, check that facilities are operational. There is no advanced medical care on either island for diving related accidents.

Malaria is a risk throughout the year in Honduras and the Bay Islands, particularly during the rainy season (May to November). Other insect-borne diseases (including Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis) are also a risk to travellers, particularly during the wet season (April to November). We recommend consulting your doctor for advice on medication to take against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, typhoid and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in Honduras. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Severe air pollution occurs throughout the country during the dry season and can lead to serious respiratory problems.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Honduras. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in Mexico:

Australian Embassy, Mexico City

Ruben Dario 55
Polanco
Colonia Bosques de Chapultepec, C.P. 11580
Mexico DF Mexico
Telephone (52 55) 1101 2200
Facsimile (52 55) 1101 2201
E-mail: consularpassports.mexico@dfat.gov.au
Website www.mexico.embassy.gov.au

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

If you are travelling to Honduras, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur and cause extensive damage to roads throughout Honduras. In the case of a hurricane or major mudslide, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.

The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. You can check the latest hurricane information at the National Hurricane Center website.

In the event of an approaching hurricane, you should monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. Passport, photo identification etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our Severe Weather page.

Honduras is located in an active earthquake zone. Travellers should familiarise themselves with local earthquake safety measures and follow the instructions of local authorities in the event of an earthquake.

The rainy season extends from May to November when hurricanes, flooding and mudslides may occur. Roads are often damaged and blocked and travel delays are common. Information on hurricanes or other severe weather conditions can be obtained from U.S. National Hurricane Center and Tropical Prediction Center at the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency or the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.